MINNEAPOLIS -- Indians starter Mitch Talbot is set to begin a gradual progression back to the Indians' pitching staff.
Cleveland announced on Monday that Talbot was scheduled to begin a 30-day Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus. Talbot, who opened this season as the Tribe's fifth starter, will initially work out of the Clippers' bullpen.
The Indians placed the 27-year-old Talbot on the 15-day disabled list with a back strain on Wednesday.
For the season, Talbot has gone 2-6 with a 6.33 ERA over 11 starts for the Indians. The right-hander has given up 81 hits, with 35 strikeouts and 24 walks over 58 1/3 innings pitched. Talbot was also sidelined for a little more than a month with a right elbow problem between April and May.
Over his past seven starts, Talbot went 0-5 with a 7.43 ERA, allowing a .353 opponents' batting average along the way. In his most recent outing on July 8, he gave up eight runs on 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings of an 11-7 loss at home to the Blue Jays.
Talbot was initially replaced in the rotation by right-hander Jeanmar Gomez. On Monday, however, Cleveland optioned Gomez to Triple-A Columbus in favor of keeping lefty David Huff on the starting staff. Huff turned in seven shutout innings in a 5-2 win over the Twins in the first game of Monday's doubleheader.
Talbot, who went 10-13 with a 4.41 ERA as a rookie for the Tribe in 2010, is currently out of options, meaning the Indians are unable to send him to the Minor Leagues without first exposing him to waivers.
Right knee injury sends Sizemore to DL
MINNEAPOLIS -- An old nemesis paid Grady Sizemore a visit on Sunday. While running past first base at Camden Yards, a familiar pain shot through his right knee. It was the same type of jolt he experienced in the opposite knee a year ago.
Last season's left knee injury sidelined Sizemore in May and led to microfracture surgery and a grueling 10-month rehab. On Monday in Minnesota, Cleveland placed its star center fielder on the 15-day disabled list with a right knee issue that the club hopes does not include a similar chain of events.
Sizemore, more than anyone else, is hoping the same.
"There's a lot of concern," Sizemore said at Target Field on Monday morning. "I just hope I don't have to go through what I went through last year."
Sizemore was scheduled to fly back to Cleveland, where he will undergo further tests on his ailing right knee. The Tribe recalled left-hander David Huff from Triple-A Columbus to assume Sizemore's spot on the active roster. Huff started Game 1 of Monday's doubleheader at Target Field.
Until the club's medical staff is able to examine the results of X-rays on Sizemore's knee, it will not be clear how much time the center fielder might miss. In May, Sizemore missed two weeks with a bone bruise in his right knee, and that type of timeframe would be a best-case scenario this time around.
"We won't know until the tests and all that kind of stuff," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "We hope that it can only be two weeks like the last time."
Sizemore said this is not like the last time, though.
While legging out a double in the first inning of Sunday's 8-3 loss to the Orioles, Sizemore felt a sharp pain flare up in his knee on his first step beyond first base. On May 10, when Sizemore initially hurt his right knee during a slide into second base, it took a few days for him to realize the severity of his injury.
Sizemore went through a similar ordeal last season. On April 1, he first hurt his left knee during a slide into second base at Dodger Stadium. Sizemore played through the injury and re-injured the knee while diving back into first base at Camden Yards on May 16. In June, he underwent season-ending surgery.
"It's similar," Sizemore said. "It's hard to say whether it's the same. I think it's definitely a concern based on what I went through last year. It's the same area and similar symptoms. It does feel a lot like it, but I can't say for sure.
"It's just frustrating. I don't know how else to put it. It's definitely frustrating dealing with this and being in a similar situation."
The setback comes during a hot streak for Sizemore, who has hit .400 (8-for-20) with two homers, two doubles and four RBIs over his past six games. On the season, the center fielder has hit .234 with 10 homers and 29 RBIs in 60 games for Cleveland, which is also without injured right fielder Shin-Soo Choo (broken left thumb).
For Sizemore, this marks his third stint on the disabled list this season. He opened the year on the shelf before returning from the left knee injury on April 17. Losing him once again to a similar problem is another tough blow for the injury-riddled Tribe.
"He's devastated," Acta said. "He's a guy who really takes it hard when he's not out there with his guys. You've got to have a lot of respect for the guy. He plays through pain all the time. He's done that over the last three years pretty much here.
"It is very hard for him not to be out there with his teammates. And it's hard for us, too. He's such an important part of our team and our clubhouse and everything."
Indians' depth put to the test due to injuries
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Indians' limited depth continues to be put to the test. With outfielders Shin-Soo Choo and Grady Sizemore now both on the disabled list, Cleveland looks in serious need of pulling off a trade to boost its playoff chances.
Entering Monday, the Indians and Tigers were locked in a virtual tie for first place atop the American League Central standings. The White Sox (four games back) and Twins (five games) were close behind.
Roughly two weeks remain until the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, and the Tribe is undoubtedly in the market for offensive assistance. That said, manager Manny Acta made it clear on Monday that the Indians will be very reluctant to part with their top prospects.
"I don't think our front office is going to allow people to take advantage of us," Acta said. "I think we're pretty clear about what we're trying to do here. We're in it. We have a chance to win this thing, but we also have to think beyond that.
"We're not going to mortgage our future just based on an injury or two."
Choo is likely out until September, but the timetable for Sizemore -- placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right knee injury on Monday -- remains cloudy. For now, Acta said he plans on handing the bulk of the center field playing time to rookie outfielder Ezequiel Carrera.
"He brings speed," Acta said, "which we don't have much of right now without Grady and without Choo. [Carrera] is a good defensive outfielder and he brings some energy day in and day out. That's something that we're looking forward to seeing from him."
Entering Monday, the 24-year-old Carrera was hitting just .214 in nine games with the Indians. In 81 games for Triple-A Columbus, he hit .288 with a .373 on-base percentage, compiling two homers, eight doubles, three triples, 25 RBIs, 35 stolen bases and 63 runs scored.
With Carrera in center, Michael Brantley will continue serving as Cleveland's starting left fielder. Travis Buck and Austin Kearns will split the playing time in right. As for the lineup, Acta indicated that he is considering giving Carrera a shot at leading off.
"We're going to look at it," Acta said. "We're going to have to now without Grady and Choo. We're definitely probably going to have to do some tinkering with the lineup -- again."
Smith's impressive scoreless streak ends
MINNEAPOLIS -- Just like a slumping player is due to turn things around, one that is on a hot streak is sure to suffer a setback. Along those lines, Indians reliever Joe Smith's scoreless streak was bound to end at some point.
Smith saw his impressive run come to a close in the seventh inning of Sunday's 8-3 loss to the Orioles. In allowing two runs, the sidearmer's streak of 19 shutout innings in a row ended.
"It's pretty tough to continue that streak," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "At some point, he was going to have to give up some runs. ... He'll be back at it. I feel good about the way he's throwing the ball right now."
Heading into Monday's game against the Twins, Smith had a 1.30 ERA (up from 0.80 after Sunday's setback) over 37 appearances out of the Tribe's bullpen this year. During a 27-game stretch that ran from May 12 through Friday, Smith had surrendered just one unearned run.
Prior to Sunday, Smith last allowed an earned run on May 8 against the Angels.
"Yeah, yesterday happened," Smith said. "I gave up two runs, but I hung a slider [to Derrek Lee]. That was the one bad pitch in my mind. All in all, I got a couple ground balls, and they weren't hitting the ball hard off me.
"I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing."
Quote to note
"I like playing there, but it doesn't like me." -- Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore on Camden Yards
With his start against the Twins on Monday, David Huff became the first lefty to start for the Indians this season. Cleveland became the last team to use a southpaw in its rotation this year. Overall, the Indians have now used nine starters (Fausto Carmona, Justin Masterson, Josh Tomlin, Carlos Carrasco, Mitch Talbot, Jeanmar Gomez, Alex White, Zach McAllister and Huff) in 2011.
The Indians and Twins both sported green hats for Game 1 of Monday's doubleheader at Target Field. The hats were in honor of Earth Day (April 22). The clubs planned on wearing them for their game in April, but the contest was postponed due to inclement weather.
Prior to Monday's twin bill, the Indians and Twins had not played a doubleheader since April 17, 1999, in Cleveland. The teams had not played a double dip in Minnesota since Sept. 3, 1978, when the Twins played at Metropolitan Stadium.